Artlyst Election Special: What Are The Leading Parties Thoughts On The Future Of The Arts?

With the UK general election just around the corner, you may have found it strange that you seemed to have missed a detailed art policy from each of the leading parties – well sadly you didn’t – as not much has been mentioned regarding the future of the country’s arts, and nothing substantial has yet been published outlining specific promises by each of the parties.

Although Artlyst has noticed an alarming trend with the exodus of London’s leading museum directors. It would seem that everyone is leaving in droves like rats from a sinking ship – and just before a general election – we’re hoping that this isn’t a sign of ‘things to come’.

So, if you aren’t already exhausted from wrestling with leaflets overwhelming your letter box, this is an opportunity to contrast and compare our edited highlights of the parties varying stances on the arts, to give a general overview of potential future art policies in a variety of manifestos that will effect many galleries, and art institutions – and you – whether you’re an art insider, or a dedicated art enthusiast.

Artlyst is about contemporary and emerging art, artists, and art institutions in and around London. We may not be a political party, but we’re still accountable to our loyal readers, so we feel it’s our responsibility to report the facts at hand. We have even created a word map of key points from each manifesto, making the current stance of each party as clear as we can, in an attempt to give you a slightly clearer idea of their positions regarding the importance of the country’s arts and culture, and how your vote may effect the future of contemporary art in the capital, and beyond.

The Labour Party

“We will put the arts and culture back at the heart of our government. We will guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education so that every young person has access to cultural activity and the arts in schools and after-school clubs. We will require any institution that receives arts funding to open up their doors to young people, and we will work with public bodies to rebalance arts funding across the country. We reaffirm our commitment to universal free admission to ensure that our great works of art and national heritage can be enjoyed in all parts of the country. We will increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries.”

The Liberal Democrats

“Liberal Democrats understand that arts, creative industries and culture are crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life. The UK’s creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years, and a critical driver of our recovery. We are proud of the arts in Britain and will support them properly, working to deliver access for all, regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, age, belief, sexuality or disability. We believe the arts have an essential role in our education system and will work to encourage creativity in our schools and universities.

We will: Maintain free access to national museums and galleries, while giving these institutions greater autonomy. Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.”

The UK Independence Party

“We are the envy of the world for our rich history, our art and our architecture. Encourage regenerative arts projects in our coastal towns.”

The Scottish National Party

There is no mention at all of an arts policy in the manifesto, only concerns regarding the responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland, that should be transferred from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.

The Conservative Partly

“We may not be the biggest country, but our museums are second to none. In music, art, fashion, theatre, design, film, television and the performing arts, we have an edge. Conservatives understand these things do not just enhance our national prestige and boost our economy; they help tie our country together, strengthening the bonds between all of us. That’s why, despite all the economic chaos we inherited, we have put over £8 billion of public and Lottery funding into the arts, heritage, museums and galleries during the last five years. We have also boosted school sports and increased the share of National Lottery funding going to good causes.

We will support our world-leading museums, galleries and heritage. We will keep our major national museums and galleries free to enter and enable our cultural institutions to benefit from greater financial autonomy to use their budgets as they see fit. Over the last five years, we have made sure that arts funding benefits the whole of the UK. We will support a Great Exhibition in the North; back plans for a new theatre, The Factory, Manchester; and help the Manchester Museum, in partnership with the British Museum, to establish a new India Gallery. We are also supporting plans to develop a modern world class concert hall for London. We will ensure the protection and enjoyment of one our most ancient and precious heritage sites by building a tunnel where the A303 passes closest to Stonehenge. We significantly increased National Lottery funding for heritage and have created a brand new heritage charity – English Heritage – to support more than 400 buildings and monuments. And we will continue to support essential roof repairs for our cathedrals and churches, along with other places of worship.

We will support our creative industries. The creative industries have become our fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy – driven in part by the tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras we introduced. Our support for the film industry has resulted in great British films and encouraged Hollywood’s finest to flock to the UK. We will continue these reliefs, with a tax credit for children’s television next year, and expand them when possible. We will protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies. And we will build on progress made under our voluntary anti-piracy projects to warn internet users when they are breaching copyright. We will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites.”

The Green Party

“Public support for the arts is part of a civilised society. Increase government arts funding by £500 million a year to restore the cuts made since 2010 and reinstate proper levels of funding for local authorities, helping to keep local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open. Reduce VAT to 5% for live performances. Work to support fair pay productions in the arts. Support initiatives to make the arts and sports accessible to all.”

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